West Fork Grays River

Grants support continuing habitat-restoration work on Grays River in southeastern Pacific County.

OLYMPIA — The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board on Dec. 16 announced awarding $26.1 million in grants for projects across the state aimed at bringing salmon back from the brink of extinction. About $521,000 for Pacific County and $215,000 for Wahkiakum are included in this year’s grants.

Pacific Conservation District is Pacific County’s biggest grant recipient, according to a press release. The agency is getting $360,000 to continue or start projects on Forks Creek; Redfield, Raimie and Howard creeks; and the Willapa River. All are in north county.

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe will get $161,000 to continue restoration work on Grays River’s West Fork in an isolated area of southeastern Pacific County.

Although located outside the tribe’s traditional homeland, the Cowlitz play a lead role in several habitat-restoration projects in Pacific and Clatsop counties.

Farther east, the Wahkiakum Conservation District will use its latest grant to work with Wahkiakum County to replace a culvert, which is partially blocking fish access to about a mile of upstream habitat in Cadman Creek, a tributary in the Skamokawa River watershed.

20 years of grants

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the board’s creation and the latest group of projects brings the total amount of salmon recovery since the board’s start to $23 million for 109 projects in Pacific and Wahkiakum. Matching funds provided by project recipients results in an overall total of nearly $40 million.

Around the state in the past 20 years the grants have achieved these results:

• 713 barriers to migrating fish corrected, giving salmon access to 2,082 miles of habitat

• 537 miles of streams conserved to ensure they remain healthy habitat for generations of salmon to come

• More than 48,500 acres of shorelines, estuaries, wetlands, and other stream habitat restored

• More than 17,700 acres of land along rivers, wetlands, and estuaries cleared of invasive species

With this year’s decisions, the board has approved a total of 3,093 grants and surpassed the $1 billion investment mark since 1999, including matching funds from grant recipients.

“The work being done across the state on salmon recovery is critical,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “These grants for on-the-ground projects will help us restore salmon to healthy levels that allow for both protection and a robust fishery. We must do everything we can to restore this beloved Washington icon and help orcas, which are starving due to lack of salmon, before it is too late.”

“These grants create many other benefits for local communities, such as better water quality, less flooding, more resiliency to climate change and a boost to our statewide economy,” said Phil Rockefeller, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “Since the board’s beginning, its grants have created or sustained more than 4,000 jobs and contributed to the state’s economy as grant recipients spend the money for products and services.”

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations for 96 projects in 28 of the state’s 39 counties. Grant recipients will use this funding to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating to and from the ocean, increase the types and amount of salmon habitat and conserve pristine areas.

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